Seek failure and be wrong as fast as you can: Creativity, Inc.
Who is this for?
People involved in any kind of creative activity, especially in teams.
Is it awesome?
This book defines the level of awesomeness of anything as a ladder from zero to itself.
How lengthy is it?
It reads like a charm and almost has the structure of a fiction. You'll wish it were longer.
What better book to launch this blog than the one who launched me into what I do today?
Creativity, Inc. (entire title "Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration") is my creativity bible, which means it is usually the first book I recommend to anyone seeking advice about their creative process or about the process of creating things.
Its author, Ed Catmull, is the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Studio. As such, he was the one who created the world's first animated movie, Toy Story, alongside guys like Steve Jobs, the man with the turtlenecks, and John Lasseter, the man with the flower print shirts - the founding fathers of animated movies and modern creative processes.
Creativity, Inc. is as much a collection of slices of life as it is a collection of lessons learned: as the critique Anton Ego said in Ratatouille's mind-blowing monologue, Pixar's success came from protecting and believing in the New. This book is not so much about innovation as it is about the need to innovate - and how to foster that innovation. Catmull pinpoints the ingredients of novelty and creativity with the knowledge of a man who failed again and again at grasping them. In fact, failure is much more than an old friend: it is a desirable entity, one that should be a part of your life as a creator of any kind. This culture of failure and change, this environment where failure is so desirable that not failing is shameful, made Pixar into the creative hive that it is today and saved Disney from the desert where it was crawling in the late 90s and following years.
Catmull explores these memories in a clear and concise way, dissecting each life lesson into concrete examples of his management and creative existence at Pixar. He rolls out what he learned over thirty years and shoves it into a clean cut of three hundred intoxicating pages.
On a more modest scale, this book identifies several locks which can easily be busted in order to unleash your own productivity. These locks are common occurrences for any creative person, but it seems that until they are pointed out to you, you fail to recognize them for what they are: obstacles built and nurtured by your own insecurities and preconceptions. So, yeah, quite a slap in the face we've got there. I finally allowed myself to contemplate writing as an actual job option the day I finished Creativity, Inc., and can vouch for the power of that slap.
10 lessons I learned from this book: - trust the team, not the idea
- challenge and test all ideas relentlessly - commit to communication and honesty
- seek failure and be wrong as fast as you can - protect and encourage ugly babies (aka believe in the New)
- engage your problems: embrace responsibility and introspection - distrust your confidence and be comfortable with the unexpected - give up control: you're not creating that story for yourself, but for others
- managers should not prevent risk, but make it safe for others to take risks
- making something great is the end goal: you'll always start with not-so-great things
Thank you for reading and have a great day.